Ramadan: Allah’s Impossible Command

Every year Muslims around the world participate in Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

So when are Muslims supposed to fast during this month? The Qur’an is clear on this: “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct
to you from the black thread of night. Then complete the fast unfil the sunset.” (Qur’an 2:187)

It is clear from this verse that you should actually be able to observe the illuminating effect of the sun rising before beginning the fast.

Sahih Bukhari confirms this by having Muhammad say that the thread refers to: ‘the blackness of the night and the whiteness of the day.’ (Sahih Bukhari 35:1817) In other words Allah commands you to eat when it is dark and fast while it is light.

Let’s unpack the implications of this verse for a bit:

  1. Muslims believe that Islam is God’s final revelation for the whole earth and you should therefore be able to practice it anywhere on the planet
  2. Because the Muslim year is shorter than the universal calendar Ramadan can occur in all seasons
  3. There are places north of the Arctic circle (inhabited in Muhammad’s time and in the present) where it is dark for 24 hours during winter and light for 24 hours during summer.

All of this leaves Muslims with two rather uncomfortable options:

  • The Qur’an was written by someone who had no idea of the existence of the ‘midnight sun
  • Almighty, All-Knowing Allah wants his followers in the Arctic to die of starvation in summer and not keep the fast in winter.

So the question that fasting Muslims should answer is: Why did an All-Knowing God give a command that is impossible to keep somewhere on earth?

 

 

Islamophobia – A 21st Century Parable

As he closes the trunk of his car Rudolph’s eyes linger for a moment on his large COEXIST bumper sticker.

A half-smile crosses his face as he reminds himself that he is truly a citizen of the world. Not bound by the petty divisions that exercise so many of his fellow commuters. How refreshing it is to really understand the world as it is and to regard all of his fellow human beings with tolerance and acceptance.

Although it has to be said that he is really struggling to ‘tolerate’ James in the cubicle across from him.

For weeks now James, who had taken it upon himself to read the Qur’an, had been seasoning his conversations with dire warnings that Islam does not seem at all ready to ‘coexist’. Rudolph feels particularly virtuous as he replays their last interaction in his mind.

He told James in no uncertain terms that all his quotations and statistics about what he so offensively calls ‘Islamic Terrorism’ are automatically invalidated by the ‘bigotry’ and ‘hate’ inherent in even raising the possibility of a link between Islam and violence. Terror, of course, has no religion.

As Rudolph approaches his building his eye catches those of a man with a Muslim skullcap carrying a heavy backpack. For a moment he is thrown off balance by the wild look that the man threw him before quickly looking away. Rudolph is irritated by this. He thought that he was way beyond the kind of instant profiling that he so deeply despises. He was about to berate himself for subconscious racism but then realised that the man in the skullcap was white.

He was still turning this rather confusing thought around in his mind when an ear-splitting roar shattered the morning calm.

Rudolph jerked his head around to see a ball of fire racing towards him. This was met halfway by the warm glow coming from inside him as a result of his very last conscious thought: “At least I did my best not be Islamophobic”